As a Christian, I am supposed to believe that my life here on Earth is merely a temporary stop on the way to Heaven. Throughout the Bible, the theme is one of a “stranger in a strange land,” a sojourner. I am supposed to be eager to leave this life for the next.
There’s just one problem. I love my life here on Earth way too much. I’m just not ready for the glorious world that “God has ready for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
What do I love? I love nature. Spectacular sunsets, the weight of white snow on a tree bough, a cardinal flitting from bush to bush, the lulling roll of waves on the beach, the smell of fresh cut pine calling up all the Christmases of my past. I look in awe at the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains, Niagara Falls, and the Grand Canyon.
I love man-made things too. Fresh bread and butter, a glass of wine, the Great Wall of China, “A Starry Night,” an elegant brick Georgian house, Beatles songs. The smell of an old book, the ticking of a grandfather clock, even the rumble of laundry in the dryer on a cold night when I am home with my family, cozy and warm. No, I’m not ready for the pearly gates.
Most of all, I would miss the people in my life – my family and friends first and foremost. At a relative’s funeral recently, I realized just how hard it is to say goodbye. Although I hope and pray that he is in a better place, I can’t help but feel sad for the things he will miss and the time his loved ones might have had to spend with him.
Life can be very hard, no doubt about it. No one escapes hardship, pain, or suffering. Loneliness, doubt, and fear – all are part of the human condition. Yet I can’t help agreeing with the time-honored lesson that George Bailey learns in the classic Jimmy Stewart holiday film: “It’s a wonderful life.”